Barboza-Nurmagomedov Confirmed for UFC 219

A battle of top-ranked lightweight contenders has been scheduled for UFC 219.

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Edson Barboza, currently ranked No. 2 and 3 in the UFC’s lightweight rankings — under champion Conor McGregor and interim champion Tony Ferguson — will meet at the Dec. 30 event, which will take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Barboza confirmed news of the fight on Friday at a Q&A in Sao Paulo, where the UFC is this weekend for a Fight Night event.

“I just got the news a few minutes ago that my next fight will be on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas against Khabib Nurmagomedov,” Barboza said. “I’m really happy with this opportunity. It’s going to be a war.”

Reportedly, Barboza confirmed his acceptance for this fight earlier this month, but Nurmagomedov was holding out, hoping that he could face Ferguson for the interim title, that way McGregor and Diaz could possibly have a trilogy bout and he’d have the opportunity at McGregor later on. But now that McGregor vs. Ferguson looks likely, Nurmagomedov has accepted a fight with Barboza.

“Everybody knows his game,” Barboza said. “It’s no secret to anyone. But I’m an MMA fighter and I’m not afraid of going to the ground with him. If he gives me an opening on the ground, I have a chance to end the fight there. I’m sure that if I go there and do my best, I’ll come out victorious.”

Nurmagomedov is a perfect 24-0 in his professional MMA career, including a perfect 8-0 in the UFC. He owns victories over Rafael dos Anjos, and most recently defeated Michael Johnson back at UFC 205 in November 2016. Nurmagomedov and Ferguson were originally booked to face each other for the UFC interim lightweight title at UFC 209 back in March, but Nurmagomedov pulled from the bout just days before the event due to illness from weight-cutting issues.

Barboza, meanwhile, has won three straight, picking up victories over Anthony Pettis at UFC 197 in April 2016, Gilbert Melendez at a UFC Fight Night in July 2016, and, most recently, Beneil Dariush at a UFC Fight Night back in March.

“I’m a brown belt under Ricardo Almeida and I’m ready, no doubt,” Barboza said. “People doubt my jiu-jitsu a little bit because most of the fighters wasn’t able to take me down, so they haven’t seen my jiu-jitsu. But I’m ready. But you’ll be surprised.”

Other bouts scheduled for the UFC’s year-end event include Dominick Cruz vs. Jimmie Rivera, Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza and Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny. No main event has officially been announced for the event yet.

Original Story: MMA Fighting

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